Soon the Holidays will be upon us: Christmas and on into the New Year! There will be lights, food, presents and no doubt you will be hearing and reading therapists and life coaches talk about the dreaded “resolutions”.
Maybe you think that this year will be the year you will stop engaging in certain unhealthy habits or perhaps change your relationship with food or maybe just begin to think more positively about life.
Maybe you tried last year and the year before that? Maybe you thought that it would make sense to just put off making resolutions altogether…because you never seem to make those changes.
So when is the best time to make big life changes? In my experience, often the energy you start your year with is carried on throughout because intentions really do matter, but setting out with what I call “dirty goals” will almost always ensure failure in the long term.
Dirty goals are the goals whose motivation is “extrinsic” in nature. What that means is that we often think about what we will get when have that goal and the rewards we will experience. For example, thinking of the attractive person we will be with when lose that 20 pounds or what we will be able to buy with the money we make by reaching certain financial goals.
While that works to get us going in the short term by changing our state, it can really stop us continually taking action towards our goals in the future because it leaves out something vital: the fact that all our objectives that lead to some sort of perfect state are flawed
by nature. This is because every state eventually will change (all things do) and so if you are eternally focused on some idea of perfection, you will inevitably be disappointed.
So what is the solution to this? Focus on intrinsic motivation. This is doing something because it is personally rewarding, not because of some external reward out there in the future.
When you think about your motivation, think about what you enjoy in the activity or behaviour you are now employing. What are you learning? Ask yourself, “Who is the person I am becoming that easily accomplishes these goals?”
In my experience, when people focus more on actualizing their own potential and enjoy the moment, not only do they have more fun but they also tend to reach goals faster and consistently. Also by the time they do get to reap the rewards of their work, they enjoy them and also have more energy and focus to keep going because they are not fooled by the short-term pleasure of some finite state.
So are extrinsic goals all bad? I don’t think so. They are useful for getting get you out of apathy and into action. But while thinking about the rewards you will get works, short term it is wise to slowly phase that out realise the person you are becoming is the main goal.
Always strive to be better than you were the day before and you will be moving in the right direction. Drop the nebulous idea of “resolutions” in the New Year and focus on your developing your powerful resolve right NOW.
If you want to get a “head start” on the New Year, know that you can use the resources within your mind to move you forward toward your goals while becoming the person you choose to be.